Press Play: New music Kwesi Arthur, Portable, Bella Shmurda, Hermez and more

Your weekly dose of the best new sounds around the continent!


"Ogo Forever" - Portable

The most recent in a long line of viral-first Nigerian artists in the ineffable Portable. Presenting himself as the complete package coming in with fresh slang and a dance to boot, his latest effort strays far from the raucousness of Zazuu. Toning down the drums and synths for some traditional South-Western Nigerian percussion, even his lyrics allude to more thoughtful scenes of reflection and faith. While the jarring switch might be too much for some of his earliest fans, it is a welcome surprise for his development as an artist. This is the sort of versatility that takes an artist from viral act to urban legend.


"ASHAWO SEASON "- Ground Chale & Kwesi Arthur


While recent Nigerian-Ghanian musical relations have been fraught with aggression, there are a few acts from the Gold Coast looking to refocus the attention positively. Kwesi Arthur delivers the whimsical Ashawo Season. Declaring an unidentified period in the year open season for sexual decadence seems slightly off-brand for the 24-year-old rapper but manages to take a bit of tension away from the current overflow of negative feedback.


"Ready" - BenjiFlow & Juls


Contemporary African R&B is experiencing something of a renaissance and records like "Ready" are the proof of life necessary to be present for it. Serving as the precursor to BenjiFlow's return to the scene (his next project, The Thrill is slated to drop later this month) his latest single is aided by the production efforts of Juls. Continuing his prolific streak of alt-Afro R&B cuts with the likes of Tay Iwar and Chronixx, "Ready" feels like more of the same but is anchored by Benji's unique cadence and charisma.


"Let Me Know" - Qasim


Details like the introductory guitar trills on this record are becoming more prevalent in Afro-Pop in a bid to reduce the predictability of these records. They have definitely helped Qasim appear more travelled than his two single portfolio naturally suggests. The strengths of the record lie in his vocal performance and the very polished production, hopefully with some consistency there could be a new contender for Afro-Pop Rookie of the Year.


"Personal" - Fiokee & Bella Shmurda


Consolidating his decade long career with an album, Nigerian guitarist, Fiokee enlists an all-star cast of features that elevate his production efforts to greater heights. Everyone from Yemi Alade to Bella Shmurda makes an appearance and the latter's work on "Personal" perhaps stands out the most. Singing passionately about the importance of not internalizing unfortunate circumstances and remembering that with life, these things just happen.


"Lucky Me" - Hermez


His annual return to the scene is marked by the release of "Lucky Me", the second half of a two-single pack. The record's bounce is best described as alt-pop heavily influenced by hip-hop. The lyricism is emblematic of standard-issue rap flexes and enough braggadocio to assure anyone that their partner is unsafe in his presence.





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